Plans to replace library with one at former chapel
A POPULAR Cardiff library, which was closed on health and safety grounds, could be replaced in a scheme in which it would be part of a cafe and information centre at a disused hospital chapel.
Roath Library was shut in November 2014 because of significant problems, including a boiler failure and leaky roof.
Cardiff council says it could cost more than £700,000 to refurbish.
But the move prompted protesters to argue the authority should either bring the existing building back into use or provide another library of a similar size in its place.
Now, Cardiff council is proposing to convert the former chapel at Cardiff Royal Infirmary on Newport Road – close to the former library site – into a new facility.
Working alongside the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, the Reading Cafe project would also feature a cafe and information centre.
The health board has long-held plans to create health and wellbeing centres across the region – and said it was “logical” to work alongside the council to incorporate a replacement library.
The council said the chapel had the potential to “become a vibrant hub for the Adamsdown and Roath communities”.
It said services could also include a children’s area, Wi-Fi, PCs, meeting rooms and reading groups.
A temporary library has been situated at the infirmary for some time, but the latest proposal – to be considered by a council scrutiny committee this week and discussed by cabinet later this month – is for something permanent.
Lib Dem councillor for Adamsdown, Nigel Howells, has been critical of the temporary library provision at the infirmary.
And having viewed the new proposals, he said: “I still have serious reservations that we may be having a dilution of services in the Adamsdown area.
“The chapel is significantly smaller [than the old Roath Library], meaning there will be fewer books, fewer PCs and less community space.”
According to a report prepared ahead of Thursday’s meeting, proposed services at the new library include books and materials which are “commensurate with community requirements for a comprehensive library service” and 12 PCs, compared to eight at the old Roath Library.
The cafe would also sell “competitively priced drinks and light food”.
Peter Bradbury, Cardiff council’s cabinet member for community development, said: “A considerable amount of time has passed since Roath Library closed and while temporary provision has been in place, there is a pressing need to find a permanent solution for both the provision of library services in the area and the building on Newport Road.
“The conversion of the chapel at Cardiff Royal Infirmary presents us with an exciting opportunity to create a Reading Cafe environment and secure long-term library service provision to meet the needs of people living and working in the area.”
Geoff Walsh, the health board’s director of capital, estates and facilities, explained that there was a long-standing plan to convert the former chapel into a cafe and information centre.
“When Cardiff council identified a need to provide a library for the community it was logical to also consider utilising the chapel as part of the plan,” he said.
“This is another example of the health board and Cardiff council working in partnership to provide improved community facilities.
“We want to create a hub for the community, patients, staff and visitors to the CRI site which the chapel, cafe and library would provide.”
The council still hopes to undertake a community asset transfer in respect of the old Roath Library.